Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Adventures involving Blue and White

After we went to the Vintage fair at Kelham Hall, we called in at Newark Antiques Centre, a former congregational church, but now, full to the brim with antiques and collectables.  I wandered round and was drawn to some blue and white material, which I bought (of course).  I was also drawn to a blue and white muffin dish, consisting of a plate and lid in the deepest cobalt blue with white blossom on it.  I stood and looked at it for a while and then asked to look at it in greater detail.  In retrospect, this was a mistake, because once I held it, I knew I would like to buy it.  Anyway, I checked it over and looked for a mark - Wood and Sons, Prunus.  I then talked myself right out of buying it!  What would we do with it, where would we put it?  I reluctantly put it back and talked to the lady at the counter who said she would have bought it.  However, I bought the material and left the dish there.
Of course, the internet helped a lot with finding out about the pattern. It was probably made between 1890 and 1920, by Wood and Sons and the designer was Frederick Rhead.  I discovered that it was a pattern mainly used for vases, dressing table items and not much was made as dinner services.  My original thought was that I could look out for it and buy some plates to actually use.
Well, you know what it is like.  I thought about it and thought about it and eventually, Chris said we could go back and I could get it (I think he just wanted me to stop going on about it!).  I rang up and reserved it and we went back the next day.  (I'm sure you knew that is what would happen, didn't you?!)
 Here it is - I just love it and it make me smile when I go past it.  At the moment, it is on the table with the seasonal tree, but whether that will be its home, I'm not sure.
I'm now wondering whether I can make a polymer clay flower cane based on this design...now there's yet another challenge!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Vintage Fair at Kelham Hall

We headed to Kelham Hall last Saturday, to go to the Big Vintage festival.  We were looking forward to it, but at the same time, weren't quite sure what to expect.
Kelham Hall is an impressive place, although somewhat of a mish-mash of styles.  The main building is Victorian Gothic, but there is also a large chapel, called The Dome, which was built in the 1920s by the monks who owned it at the time.
As we went in, we could only see one room and were disappointed, but then we found that there were lots more stalls in the Dome as well, so we were relieved about that. The signage could have benefited from being more obvious!
Before I tell you what I bought, I did spend a lot of time looking upwards. The ceilings were amazing.
 Yes, it's over the top, but you have got to love the Victorian Pugin-esque decoration!
 Flashes of gold abounded and there were very few unpainted areas.
 It could be a Cathedral.
 There were amazing carvings on the many pillars too.  We would love to go back and have a proper guided tour so that's something to add to the list.
 So, what did I buy?  Well, as you know, I do enjoy buying material and yes, that's what I bought this time.  The daisy pattern material reminded me of some pottery bowls we have at home and was so cheerful that it just had to be purchased.  Then there was an embroidered dressing table set.  I immediately thought that I could cut off the embroidery (said very quietly, as it could be thought to be sacrilegious!)and applique it to something else, like bunting.
 I love the butterfly motifs and I would like to be able to see them, rather than have them languishing in a drawer somewhere! It is very careful embroidery.
This mad green patterned material and I have met before, as I saw it at a previous vintage fair I went to and deliberated about it, before putting it back.  So, when I saw it again, I thought, it's fate - I am meant to have it!  It is a cotton and I think there is enough to make a sleeveless summery top.  Yet another thing to add to my 'It would be nice to make that...' list!  Unfortunately, there are no tea and cake photos as we didn't have any - the tea room was far too busy and the bar just didn't have the right ambiance!  I also paid a deposit on a 1950s style dress with a full skirt in a pink rose print which was lovely, but just a little big around the waist.  The lady from Unique Frocks is going to alter it for me, so I am looking forward to getting that in a few weeks' time.
I haven't talked about the blue materials which can be seen in the top photo, but they came from the Newark Antiques Centre which we visited before heading home and there is a story to be told there, but that is for another post...

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Spring is just round the corner

 It is tantalisingly close, the Spring.  I can almost feel it, but then the temperature drops and I am reminded it is actually still winter.  The plants are reacting to the extra light and occasional warmth too.  Hydrangea leaves are growing, still tightly furled, but waiting.
Magnolia Stellata has its fluffy flower cases - I just can't help but give them a little stroke as I go past.
 Cheerful crocus and snowdrops remind me that the colour in the garden is there.
Magnolia Fairy Blush has flower buds which are getting bigger ever day.
 The Blueberry 'Blue Pearl' also has flower buds just waiting.
 This hydrangea is putting out new shoots too.
 Hellebores are flowering now too and this one obligingly lifted its head for me.
More crocuses - little delicate species ones called Tricolor, which they are.  Even the closed flowers display the three colours.  Hmm, that colour combination reminds me of something...what could it be?  Ah yes!
The inside of a Cadbury's creme egg! (Picture from wikipedia

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Learning something new - Kumihimo

This year, one of the things I really wanted to do was to learn kumihimo, which is a Japanese braiding technique.  I have taken the plunge and found a basic eight strand braid to be remarkably easy to learn.  A disc is vital, as is a kumihimo weight which helps with the tension of the braid,  
 This pink and purple satin cord braid was my first attempt and I was really delighted with how it took shape.  It is a meditative process - top right to bottom right, bottom left to top left and turn - but this is only the beginning and there is a lot more that can be made.
 I used organza ribbon for the blue braid, but it wasn't as smooth a finish as the satin cord and was a bit scratchy.  However, it was a good experiment.
This one used rainbow satin cord with black and worked really well.  However, as you can see, none of these have been made into jewellery.  This is because I am considering how to finish a braid off.  You can buy kumihimo ends, you can make your own using wire, you can use ribbon cord ends... A bit of experimentation and practise may be in order.
Of course, apart from all the patterns you can create using different colours, different numbers of cords and different disks, there is the excitement of being able to braid beads and gemstones into the braid as you go.  Now that is something I definitely would like to try!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015


 I know that I am often writing about how versatile polymer clay is, but the two projects featured today really do demonstrate this.  A colleague from work asked me if I could lengthen a necklace which she had bought recently.  I had a look at it and said I could.  Chris and I looked through our massive stash of beads and gemstones, but, we didn't have anything just right.  I then thought I could take the necklace apart and intersperse some round beads in similar colours.  I then had a brainwave!  Polymer clay! I set to and made lots of tube beads out of the ecru clay and baked them. I then painted the ends with some acrylic paint, which I rubbed off to just leave a faint colour.  Having glazed them with a satin glaze, I threaded them onto eye pins and made the necklace longer.
 You can see the beads I added in this photo, but I was pretty happy with the match.  I just hope my colleague is happy with them too!
 On a completely different subject, ever since I was a child, I had really wanted my own 'Toby's Japanese Mouse' from the story 'The Children of Green Knowe' by Lucy Boston.  I loved the illustration in the book which was drawn by Peter Boston.  In the book, here is the description: "...an ebony mouse, life sized with shiny black eyes. It was so cleverly carved that you could see every hair, and it felt like fur to stroke".  I visited the website for Lucy Boston's house, Hemingford Grey and was thrilled to see the shop offering resin versions of the mouse.  'I must order one', I thought,  However, I didn't and when I looked again, they weren't on sale any more. (Ironically, they are back on sale again now! Typical, isn't it?! I may have to have one anyway now...)
However, my clever sculpting friend, Rachael, has come to my assistance and has made me my very own Toby's Japanese Mouse out of polymer clay.  He isn't exactly the same as the illustration, but that makes him more special. 
Isn't he sweet?  I dry brushed him with a grey acrylic paint which I wiped off straightaway, so that the fur can be seen and the details can be seen.
I then glazed him with a gloss glaze so that he would be shiny.  Thank you so much, Rachael, he is wonderful!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Send a little love swap 2015

 I have recently taken part in the Send a Little Love Swap organised by Tracy from Mad About Bags and was partnered with Linny from Australia.  As is usual, we emailed to find out a bit about each other's hobbies and likes/dislikes.  Linny didn't have a blog, so I needed to ask lots of questions! As part of the swap, we needed to send a minimum of 5 things; something heart shaped or themed; something delicious; something handmade; something red. We made and bought and posted the parcels.  I received a beautifully wrapped mountain of goodies!
 Scruffy found the parcels almost as exciting as I did and I had trouble removing them from him!
Here are all the unwrapped parcels.  Wow! (Can you see the kangaroo keyring?)
 I had been sent an apron, some wildflower seeds, a calendar featuring Australian wildflowers, some mango green tea and an Australian felting magazine.  Linny had obviously done a lot of homework on my hobbies.
 There was a lovely heart shaped pan...
 and some beautifully made bags, some handmade felt and a felt ladybird to make.
 The bags were really lovely.
Heart shaped material and a heart button.
Inside, there were lots of pockets.
 The zipped bag was covered in pawprints which even featured on the inside too.  I was delighted by all the gifts, as you can imagine.  A HUGE thank you to Linny for being such a generous and wonderful swap partner and thanks to Tracy for organising.
 So, here's what I sent.  Yes, a felt heart and some earrings and a key ring all featured.  I also found a heart bag and a felt heart garland, sweets, buttons, ribbons and postcards. At the local art sale, a few weeks ago, I bought the little white glass heart which had been made by a local glass artist and that was included too.
Here are my parcels ready to be packaged.  (Unfortunately, in adding the Maltesers to the parcel, I hadn't taken into account the temperatures in Australia and on arrival, they had melted.  Apparently they were solidifying in the fridge. Oops!)  It was a great swap to take part in and I really enjoyed 'meeting' Linny, albeit in a virtual way.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Easton Walled Gardens and snowdrops

I spent a very happy few hours at Easton Walled Gardens today, with my friends Katy and Alison, on our first garden visit of the year. We usually go to Hodsock to look at the snowdrops, but we decided to break with tradition and go somewhere else this year. Although we had all visited Easton before, it was a number of years ago.  There was once a grand house on the site, but during the 1950s, it was demolished and the gatehouse is all that is left.  When the current owners took it over the land in 1994, it was like a jungle and has taken a lot of work to get it to what it is today.  Even the weather was helpful as the fog lifted and we enjoyed beautiful warm sunshine.
 There were some beautiful upright hellebores in amongst the snowdrops.
 Following the path round and looking up, the snowdrops appeared to be like a river...
 ...and were then joined by aconites.
 It almost looked like snow.
 There were so many.
 I liked this urn perched on the edge of the wall.
 On the formal bridge, someone had left a heart of gravel - possibly a tribute to St Valentine? - which I couldn't resist taking a photo of.  I liked the way it had been left there.
 Looking back up towards where the house once was. The terraced banks are planted with wildflowers. On the flat area before the bridge, there were once some formal bedding displays.  You can see them in photos from a visit to the house made by 'Country Life' magazine in 1901, which are displayed in the history room and the tea room.
 Looking back down across what was the walled kitchen garden, with the edge of the massive yew hedge.
 Back by the terrace again - I love an open doorway.
 This was on top of a wall by the area where there was once a peach house.  It is the remains of a sundial and you can see the hole where the gnomen was fixed.
 MC's initials feature a lot in the remaining ironwork - a previous member of the Cholmeley family who owned the house.
 This display of primulas gave a welcome bit of colour in the stableyard, where the shop and toilets are.
Of course I came away with a couple of plants, courtesy of Katy.  This is the rather beautiful Galanthus Elwesii with lovely markings on the petals, which will be planted in my garden as a reminder of the very enjoyable visit to Easton.